The Best Microphone For Recording Vocals in 2019
The best microphone for recording vocals will serve home studios, professional musicians and talented singers. Prices vary from $300 to $1000.
When I was starting to build my home recording studio, I was a student who barely makes it financially to the end of the month. That didn’t stop me from investing in my gear, and I managed to add or upgrade 2-3 pieces of equipment every year. Thankfully you can still find some decent choices for a studio recording microphone for less than $300. If on the other hand you are looking for premium recording microphones or want a mic to expand the variation of your sound source recordings, then this is the list you need.
How much to spend on a good quality recording microphone
I have been in dozens of music studios, live recordings, and radio broadcasts and I can confidently say that your recordings will not sound better analogously with the money you spend. So, a $1000 mic will definitely not sound 5x times better than a $200 studio microphone. But of course, there is no such thing as a ratio between price and quality on any product with another. The price differential between our two lists is mostly because of the included polar patterns. Nevertheless, an expensive high-end studio microphone has a lot to offer. Recording quality, durability, versatility, and time-saving from sound notifications a lower quality mic might need.
If your budget is tight like it was mine, check our post for the best studio microphones with options starting from $80.
What to consider before buying a microphone for recording vocals and instruments
- Microphone type:
Condenser type of microphones is preferable in a studio. Condenser mics point the source of the sound and are the most versatile, allowing you to record pretty much everything. Dynamic, on the other hand, are best for live shows. However, we have seen legends like Michael Jackson record with a dynamic type of microphone. A good example is our first pick Shure SM7B.
There is no rule saying you which microphone to use for each instrument or voice. However, condenser mics are better for vocals. As well, for a high-frequency range of instruments such as acoustic guitars, cymbals, and pianos. Dynamic mics, on the other hand, are more suitable for drums, bass or electric guitars.
- Polar patterns:
The polar pattern of a microphone describes the sensitivity at which it picks up sound relative to the position of the mic itself. Cardioid: rejects the sound from the sides and rear and concentrates on what happens in front of it. Omnidirectional: It will record sources from all directions. Figure 8: It is for opposing sound sources, such as two singers facing the mic from the opposite side.
- Frequency Response:
The frequency response of a microphone tells you exactly how it manages certain parts of the frequency range. For example, some mics tend to emphasize than others, resulting in slight coloration, or, for example, the lows popping out more than the mids/highs.
Large diaphragms offer less self-noise and high sensitivity. Small diaphragms, on the other hand, give us a wider frequency and dynamic range.
Other specifications we want to see on a recording mic.
- Sound Pressure Level (SPL):
SPL describes the highest level of volume of the input sound the microphone can pick up. That way, you will achieve recordings without the signal getting distorted and starts losing quality. Most good microphones have a switch that toggles the sensitivity and the maximum SPL so that you can adjust it according to your needs and preferences.
XLR, USB, and classic 3.5mm are your choices, but XLR is the best option. Check the best audio interfaces and what inputs fit your requirements.
It would be sad and unfair to but a vocal mic on a budget of 700-800 dollars and worry about damaging it easily. In general studio mics like the models below are reliable and have solid build quality. Condenser microphones, however, are not so durable as dynamic ones. For obvious reasons, the dynamic mic that will be used for live performances and events have more possibilities to be dropped or/and abused. Good microphones literally will last a lifetime.
- The package offers:
Most studio microphones come in a box with additional tools. From pop filters to shock mounts, or even XLR cables that will get you to use your microphone from the day one. If the mic doesn’t come with any of the above, then you will definitely have to invest in them. You cannot succeed ideal recordings without a pop filter to block the unwanted air that hits the microphone when a person pronounces certain sounds and syllables. As well as, the shock mount to absorb the vibrations or movement of the mic ideally.
What is a good microphone for recording vocals
You want, functional specs, durability, and audio quality on your next recording microphone. Except for the features and characteristics of each mic, we take into consideration the customer reviews and price tag. There are dozens of models on the market that will fit in the list for the best microphone for recording vocals with under 1000 dollars. All models below are choices we have made together with music producers and singers with experience in a variety of studios and needs.
For perfect vocal recordings, you need one more tool. Check the best professional USB audio interface and best Thunderbolt audio interfaces for more.
TOP 7 BEST MICROPHONES FOR RECORDING VOCALS
1. SHURE SM7B
Shure SM7B has become one of the most popular vocal dynamic microphones in the market. In the Amazon store, you will find nearly perfect reviews with users praising all its features and built quality.
This high-end microphone by Shure offers a cardioid polar pattern. It is one of the few dynamic mics that is used in a recording studio. SM7B has a natural, crystal-clear sound and so rich that can be easily compared to 2-3 times more expensive condenser microphones. It has a smooth, flat and wide-range frequency response suitable for vocal recording as well as instruments. The low and mid-range are a bit of emphasis.
Shure SM7B is probably the most popular microphone for recording vocals.
SM7B is a quite staple mic used by sound engineers to record pretty much everything. You must really mess up the recording to get bad results. A plus on this choice, there is no need for an external shock mount or pop filter. The package includes a foam windscreen, close-talk windscreen, and a locking yoke mount.
Conclusion: When the king of pop Michael Jackson has used this microphone for the recording of the Thriller EP, there is no room to doubt it’s quality. Shure SM7B is probably the best studio microphone for male-vocal recording. Thus, making it also a great choice for Rap vocals. It is one of the most affordable mics in our list and it worth every penny.
Musicians who use it: Michael Jackson, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mick Jagger, Skrillex
|Value for money:||9/10|
A list of the best studio recording microphones that does not include a Neumann model, it is not a reliable article. Mostly known for it’s “U” model series (U47, U87) which are in some of the best music studios in the world. They are however quite expensive for beginner producers and home use.
Neumann TLM (which also includes TLM 103 and 107 models) sets a new generation of affordable studio condenser microphones. The TLM 102 has a cardioid polar pattern, and even if it’s size might trick you, it still has a large diaphragm. The maximum sound pressure of 144dB is great for loud sources like drums. With its fast transient response, it excels on female vocals and instruments like an acoustic guitar.
TLM 102 is a high-end vocal mic that you can record a wide variety of sound sources with high quality, great fullness, and crisp sound. It has a slight boost above 6 kHz, providing an excellent vocal presence in an overall mix. It is also exceptionally compact, as it weighs only 1,1 pound (same as a book). I did a big market search to find negative reviews but in vain.
Conclusion: If your pocket can afford the TLM 102 by Neumann then go for it without hesitation. A microphone with professional purpose will surely perform amazingly in home recording studios. If you think that this is expensive, check the other models of Neumann and you will have a clear image. The TLM 102 is available in black and nickel finishing for you to pick and the package includes a shock mount to start recording immediately.
|Value for money:||8.5/10|
3.AUDIO TECHNICA AT4050
If you want more than one polar pattern for versatility Audio Technica AT4050 is for you. This large-diaphragm condenser microphone offers multiple polar patterns. You can select between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure-8 to get the best match from any sound source you are recording.
AT4050 has low self-noise and can handle sound pressure greater than 130 dB and still deliver quality sound. It offers transparent highs, rich lows, and balanced mids, and with Audio Technica’s advanced acoustic engineering, you will experience the highest quality and exceptional performance. It is one of this mic that you can pretty much record a whole album.
From female/male vocals to guitars, drums or even grand piano, this mic will give you modern sounding, solid and punchy. The reviews on the web will confirm my words of a top-notch studio recording microphone at which point your recordings won’t need much, if not at all EQ. If you are looking for extra features, there is a switchable 80 Hz hi-pass filter and 10 dB pad.
Conclusion: For this price tag, you won’t find many condenser microphones to serve you so well at all your sound source recordings. With three switchable polar patterns, the AT4050 is a must for every studio owner who wants a mic for many years and purposes. The package comes with AT8449 shock mount, so you will only have to add a pop filter in your basket. If you like this mic, but you don’t care for multi-patterns, check the Audio Technica AT4040 cardioid microphone with same characteristics and sound.
Musicians that like it: Eric Clapton, Rolling Stones, Linkin Park, Joe Perry, Rich Redmond
|Polar pattern:||Multi-pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8)|
|Value for money:||9/10|
4. CAD Audio Equitek E300S (new entry)
CAD Audio may not be known to the general public, but it has over 85 years of success in the audio industry. Audio E300S is s classic vocal studio microphone used by professional vocalists and sound engineers.
CAD Audio E300S is a large-diaphragm multi-pattern condenser microphone which offers exceptional accuracy and sonic performance. It has a regulated bypass voltage generator for precise output sensitivity; so, If you want transparent sound, a rich and smooth low end, and airy highs and mids, this recording mic is for you. You can choose to do your recordings with one of the three polar patterns (cardioid, figure-8 or omnidirectional) to balance tone and space.
You will also find some additional features such as hi-pass filter, attenuator, and power switch. The package includes a shock mount and a hard shell carrying case to take along on the stage, studio or home. A P48 (48V) phantom power is required.
Conclusion: We give attention to user-reviews before we add a mic into our list with the best recording microphones. Audio E300S has mostly received excellent ratings with customers and experienced producers comparing it’s versatile and sound to double the price microphones. Cad Audio also produces two note-worthy mics; the super-cardioid condenser Equitek E100S with a large diaphragm and the cardioid Equitek E70 with a small diaphragm. More on the Amazon Store.
|Polar pattern:||Multi-pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8)|
|Value for money:||9.5/10|
5. Rode NTK Premium
The Rode NTK is a premium cardioid condenser microphone designed to provide incredible detail and warmth in your studio. Designed and made in Australia, comes with a 10-year warranty of meeting full specifications and exceptional sound quality.
Its most distinctive characteristic is that audio engineers of any kind and genre are very satisfied with this vocal mic. The twin-triode 6922 valve and audiophile-grade components will give you a wide dynamic range, low noise, and stunning tube warmth to record Classic, Jazz, Pop, Hip-Hop, male or female vocals.
Its primarily a vocal microphone but its rich valve sound is ideal for acoustic instruments, drums, guitar amps, percussions, and pianos as well.
Conclusion: The Rode NTK is an incredible option for the producer and vocalist who is looking a for long term value-for-money premium microphone. The only downside is the old-fashioned design and color. Otherwise, there is no reason not to trust this great vocal mic.
|Value for money:||9/10|
6. AVANTONE AUDIO CV-12
The first tube mic in our list comes from Avantone Audio. CV-12 has the design, vintage look and “cabernet red-wine” finish that will easily magnetize you. It resembles the Sony C800G and AKG C12 but a much more affordable option.
Avantone Audio CV-12 is a multi-pattern condenser microphone with a large diaphragm. It offers a total of 9 patterns including cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 and six in-between settings. With time and experiment, you will find the patterns that work for your recordings.
As expected from a tube microphone the CV-12 offers “warm” sound, perfect for female vocal recordings. It also provides -10dB pad for loud sound sources like drums. As well, high pass filter and switchable 8OHz bass roll-off for the unwanted low frequencies.
Conclusion: The Avantone CV-12 comes with literally everything you need to premium record. A shock-mount, power adaptor, 7-pin connector cable, a small portable wooden case for your microphone and a transport case for all the above. It has a sweet price tag, and straight reviews on the web make it a superb option for your home studio and recording female vocals.
Musicians that like it: Taylor Swift, Grimes
|Polar pattern:||Multi-pattern (cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 and six more in-between options)|
|Value for money:||8.5/10|
7. AKG PRO AUDIO C414 XLS
For those who are not thrilled by the previous picks, the AKG C414 will satisfy the most exigent. It is such an active global mic that has been released and re-released over the years since 1971. Legends like Kurt Cobain have performed with this mic and likely for you is under our budget.
C414 is a condenser multi-pattern microphone with large-diaphragm with-which you can switch between 9 directional patterns. Cardioid, wide-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 and four more intermediate positions. There is no doubt that the big brother of C212 is the most versatile microphone that can adapt almost to any situation.
AKG C414 features switchable bass-cut filter at 40, 80 and 160Hz to reduce wind noise, subsonic noise or proximity effect. In addition 3 attenuation pads for gain staging at 0, -6, -12 and -18dB. It also has a dynamic range at 158dB, making it great for toms as well. The overall sound quality is superb, clear, and true, without “warmth” like tube mics.
Conclusion: AKG C414 is for those who want a skillful workhorse microphone that will handle everything instead of a couple of different mics in their studio. The five different pick-up patterns and nine in total make it fun to experiment. I highly suggest it if you can afford it, and for extra cover, check the excellent reviews on Amazon store. It comes in a package with a carrying case, pop filter, windscreen, and a spider-type shock mount.
Musicians that like it: Kurt Cobain, Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day), Ken Andrews, Tycho
|Polar pattern:||Multi-pattern (cardioid, wide-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, omnidirectional, figure-8 and four more intermediate positions)|
|Value for money:||9/10|
If you like AKG, also check the much more affordable:
AKG PRO AUDIO C214
Pro Audio C214 carries the same sound character with the exact above. If you are lokking for a microphone for beautifully detailed recording of lead vocals and solo instruments and the name of AKG, this is it.
C214 offers a legendary large-diaphragm sound that is capable of capturing up to 143 dB dynamic range. The most significant difference from the multi-pattern C414 is that this recording microphone is cardioid only.
These were our top choices for the best microphone for recording vocals in 2019.
We picked microphones that Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Mick Jagger have used to record their vocals. We believe they are good enough to cover your needs in your home studio.
What else you will need to start recording vocals or instruments:
Audio Interface (sound card): Unfortunately, you can’t just plug your mic into your computer’s sound card. While it does have analog-to-digital converters, it doesn’t have a preamplifier, which is necessary. The best audio interfaces on the market will have very decent preamps in them. With a budget of 200 dollars, you will still find a great audio interface; you can see by yourself at the best audio interfaces under $200. As well as the best professional audio interface.
DAW (music production software): After you have connected your microphone to your audio interface, you will have your sound played on your headphones and studio monitor speakers. If you want to record sound, you will need music production software, also known as DAW. The majority of audio interfaces usually include a DAW software such as Ableton Live, Pro Tools, and more. If not, or you want to pick your DAW regardless of your unique studio needs check The best DAW software (music production software).
PC: You will also need a good desktop or laptop where you will record and edit your vocals and tracks. Take a look at the best computer for music production, and get ahead of the game. Mac and Windows computers, both are equally well to run your DAW and record your vocals with zero latency.
At this level, most microphones are universal in their ability to ideally capture and reproduce the audio signal. These are some nearly perfect studio microphones that will stand in any recording studio. From vocal mic to instrument recordings, these microphones will successfully cover your needs. Our choices above are narrow selection to make the process of choosing as comfortable as possible. It’s really up to you to think about which features and specs you want and find the most important for your needs.
Recap: Hip hop and rap singers, rate Rode NTK 1 as an excellent microphone for recording vocals, and you should consider it. Avantone Audio CV-12 is one of the best for female vocals, and Shure SM7B is tagged as the perfect male-vocal recording microphone. CAD Audio E300S and Audio Technica are perfect from recording vocals, piano, and guitars. And of course, no one can ignore the legendary sound of Neumann TLM-102 and AKG PRO AUDIO C414.
If you are a new producer or want some quick studio tricks, check our article with 20 sound recording and music production tips.
We hope that you found this article informative and that it helped you in choosing the right studio recording microphone.
Do not hesitate to post your comments are questions. My team and I would be happy to help! Enjoy shopping…